When I coach people around self-care their initial reaction is “but I can’t because I’ll feel guilty, and my kids need me, and my partner needs me…”. Then I ask – But if you don’t take care of YOU, how will you have anything to give them?
Women especially feel extra guilty about taking time for self. They see it as selfish. Selfish has gotten a bad wrap! It has gotten associated with self-absorbed which is an animal of another color.
As I see it selfish as defined as “taking care of yourself”. It is actually one of the most selfless things you can do. It is a gift to give to those you love because when you are at your peak…you can be present and give of yourself to them 100%.
How many times do you find yourself being half-present for whatever you are doing? Maybe you’re at your kids sporting or other event but find yourself tapping away on your blackberry and taking cell phone calls. Perhaps you are taking a stroll with your partner but find yourself ruminating over 100 things from at work. Do you ever feel guilty about that? Most don’t even realize they are doing it and certainly don’t feel guilty rationalizing “you gotta do what you gotta do”.
What if…for just a month…you tried out putting yourself first. Maybe 15 minutes of quiet in the morning and another 15 at night. An hour or two just for you once a week. A date night with your partner so you can connect and re-member why you make a great couple.
Let’s face it – raising a family is a yeoman”s task for anyone. For LGBT families it can require navigating a ton of added obstacles – medical, legal, financial, emotional, societal. That is all the more reason in our community we need to celebrate each other when we carve out time for ourselves. Kids really do sense what is going on beneath the surface in all of us. They are super perceptive. The best gift you can give them and yourself is to be a model for them since actions speak louder than words.
So, my coach’s request for all you LGBT parents out there reading this article is to put yourself on your calendar – today and everyday. It may very well be the most important thing you can do to help your family thrive and to cultivate living in a way that allows you to feel comfortable in your own skin.